The owners of the Falkland Apartments is expected to decide this week whether to extend the deadline for bids on the purchase of their 27-acre complex in Silver Spring.
The Falkland Tenants' Association, which said it hopes to buy the 485-unit complex, asked the owner for more time to prepare its proposal.
John Saxton, vice president of the B.F. Saul Management Co., which manages the apartments for the Falkland Co. Ltd., said he is expects a decision from the owner this week.
Bids originally were to be closed last Friday.
Residents of the Falkland said they first heard of the proposed sale in early July. A tenant association, with 175 members, was organized Aug. 20 and the request for an extension was made six days later.
"If we don't get the extension, we can make B. F. Saul's life miserable, if we want to," said Joe McGrath, acting president of the Falkland Tenants Association at the organization's second meeting last week.
McGrath said he believes a tenants' appeal to the Montgomery County Council and a communitywide protest would persuade the firm to grant the 12-week extension on bids that tenants have requested.
"If we win the bid, we'll have no trouble getting the money. I can guarantee that," McGrath told the 23 tenant unit representatives at the meeting.
Tenants, meanwhile, decided to employ the mortgage and banking firm of Walker and Dunlop of Washington to conduct a $5,000 study of the feasibility of converting the apartments into condominiums. They also agreed to hire the law firm of Melrod, Redman and Gartlan, also of Washington, to represent them, and have begun a door-to-door fund raising drive.
To pay for the feasibility study and anticipated legal fees, tenant representatives are asking each resident for a $25 donation to the tenants' association.
"We figure if we get one person from half of the 485 units to contribute $25, then we'll have the $5,000 to pay for the study," explained Nick Bournais, treasurer of the Falkland Tenants' Association.
The study will give cost estimates for converting the 47-year-old apartments to condominiums and will assess what types of conversions are within the financial means of the tenants.
McGrath said that converting several buildings into a senior citizens' home is one possibility.
"This would not only take care of the elderly tenants who cannot afford to buy their apartments, it would also open the way for all kinds of federal funding," explained McGrath.
The sale and conversion of the apartments could be affected by their possible designation by Montgomery County as a site with historic value. Any changes in buildings that are historic sites must be approved by county officials.
Falkland rfesident Mike Kopp said, "Regardless of whether this tenants' association buys the land or not, there is a real possibility that these apartments may be a historic landmark."
Kopp said the apartments were designed by Lewis Justment, the architect who also helped plan the southwest Washington urban renewal project.
"The apartments were architecturally unique at the time they were built in the 1930s because they were built around the natural land forms like large rock clusters," Kopp said.
After talking with members of the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission, Kopp decided to request that the apartments be declared a historic landmark.
To do so, a detailed proposal must be presented to the commission. Kopp, who works for an architectural engineering firm in Washington, already has begun work on the proposal which he hopes to have completed this fall.